Review: The Vertical Self

Mark Sayers premise is that: “You can be anyone you want to be.  But is that really what you want?” (from back cover)  Identities, according to Sayers, are like cell phones.  We can pick and chose our own…or so we think.  But, that is the problem.  We are even capable of changing our image, giving our identity a make-over. (Chapter 3)  This picking and choosing and changing has actually led to us “[losing] our identities.” (4)  We no longer know who we are.  The problem with this is “we don’t know how to get them back.” (4)

Let’s face it, we all have a persona that we “wear” in public.  Heck, even us bloggers have a persona.  Yes, even I have a persona that I use when blogging.  That leads me to ask: What have I given up cultivating my internet persona?  And that seems to be the problem today.  All that this does, in Sayer’s opinion is promote a horizontal self.  “As people with a horizontal view of self, we spend so much time cultivating our outward appearances and shaping our public performances that we neglect our interior lives.” (83)

So, what is the vertical self?  The vertical self is living our lives as God intended us to live them.  It does not rely on the secular definitions of identity: sexy, cool, or glamorous.  To find out more, you’ll have to read the book.  I’m not giving anything away here.

Overall, I thought Sayers did a fairly good job of looking at our identity and our outside sources, mainly the media have affected and to some extent, shaped our identity.  We have forgotten, to borrow a phrase from my Pastoral Care professor, who and whose we are.  We are suffering from an identity crisis: we create persona and false identities to fit in, to be one of the popular people.  We need to reclaim our God given identities: that as a child of God.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program.  Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review.   The opinions expresses in this review are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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